Ask Ana: Never Stop Dating Your Partner

“Ask Ana” is a porn column. Due to the nature of the subject matter, some columns contain language that some readers may find graphic.

dear anna,

My wife and I have been together for nine years. She’s started a new job that’s more demanding on her time, and we have two kids that keep us busy too. It seems like we don’t see each other very often anymore, and when we do, we’re tired, cranky, or dealing with house repair crap.

We are so in love, but I can see the flames in our relationship fading. How do we get the fire back? I don’t just mean sex, although that’s part of it. We also haven’t had a date night in months. Any suggestions are appreciated. thanks. ——For intimacy, rethink everything

dear fire,

We sometimes think of relationships, especially marriages, as the end of courtship. Like, great, I got that girl, now I can rest on my laurels. but it is not the truth. You should never stop dating your partner.

Everything in life requires maintenance, from the mundane (replacing the water filter) to the most profound (maintaining the spark in a lifelong partnership). If you stop taking the time and energy to eat well or exercise, your health will suffer. If you don’t keep in touch with your friends, those friendships will diminish.

Like the fire metaphor you used, relationships need tending or they burn out. So how do you prioritize your relationship again? You do this on purpose, with a little planning and action.

Intentionality A mindset shift is’s not about Find It’s time to ignite your relationship; it’s about make time. Life is busy. Plan to cheat. Children are more likely to cheat. But if you psychologically promise each other that your relationship is important and worth maintaining, you’re more likely to succeed.

planning Involves setting the actual time to figure out how You’re going to nurture your marriage, whether it’s starting a regular date night, researching a vacation, or even spending five minutes each day connecting with each other after you get home from get off work. (I recommend these three!) As a bonus: do this plan and Your spouse has increased responsibilities and social connections.

While you are dreaming and planning, take a moment to think about any obstacles that may arise and then think of ways to overcome them. Then mark the time on your calendar. Set reminders on your phone. If money is tight, hire a nanny or swap kids with other parents. To plan is to set yourself up for success. To use a workout analogy, you’re more likely to work out if you take your running clothes out for a workout the night before.

action is the fun part, what you will actually do together.A popular choice is the 2-2-2 rule, which originated from Reddit user Kernan 2and then like this:

  • night out every two weeks
  • Go away for the weekend every two months
  • Every two years, leave for a week

It’s a simple title that can easily fit your lifestyle or budget. Prefer 1-2-1? do it! Can’t go out all weekend? Vacation at home! A friend of mine converted their spare bedroom into an “Airbnb” for their partner, complete with clean sheets and mints on the pillow. It’s cute and costs next to nothing (minus the mints).

Dates don’t need to be elaborate or expensive. They can cook at home together, take an evening walk around the neighborhood, talk about your hopes and dreams, or learn something new together.

The latter is especially useful because Diversity and novelty are extremely important For our happiness, and keep that spark alive. Our brains have a nasty (and necessary) function called hedonic adaptation, which basically means we get used to things very quickly. That’s fine when we’re overcoming the odds, but not so great when we get tired of our relationships because the things that used to excite us no longer work. Therefore, having new experiences with your spouse is tantamount to hindering hedonic adaptation.

TL;DR: Change your routine. Try a new restaurant or event. Learn how to dance tango or draw anime characters or build a bookshelf. Change your gender. Get out of your comfort zone. (For more ideas, see the This post about dates and events that utilize the five senses.)

Good luck, fire.

Anna Pulley is a co-columnist for the Tribune content agency, answering readers’ questions about love, sex and dating.Email your questions (anonymously) to redeyedating@gmail.comSign up for her uncommon (but amazing) newsletter or check out her books!